03 March 2011

Ribbon and Bullet

The helicopters droning dopplers up and down around the house, the sound making me laugh as I light another cigarette.  The flare of the lighter reflects bluely back at me from the barrel of the pistol propped up on the arm of the couch.  I hold the lighter open a few more seconds. The yellow flame dances languidly on the oily sheen of gunmetal, hypnotic to my wrung-out eyes. I close the lighter with a snick like a miniature guillotine.

I only smoke when I'm nervous.  Or tired.  Or lonely.  Tonight, I'm all three, darling, so please forgive me this one time.  Of course, I'll never see you again, so what difference does forgiveness make?

Warbling again, and a flash of carbon-arc spotlight washes over the front porch.  The breath catches in my throat.  The light drifts away in concert with the lowering sound of the copter blades as it drifts back out toward the interstate.  Another chuckle escapes my cracked lips, the sound of a rusty gate closing in a slow breeze.

It's funny, darling, because they won't find me here.  They think I'm on the run, trying get south over the line, or ditching them in one of the industrial parks down by the river.  Amateurs.  I'm not that obvious, or that stupid.  I'll wait here, right under their noses, in this house become holding cell, until they get bored or tired.

I can wait.  I'm good at waiting.  You know that, don't you?  Because I can, and have.  I waited for you, all those year of not even knowing it, and then you were there.  That blue cotton dress and a megawatt smile, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of biomedical industry trade secrets wound up in a soft memory stick made to look like a hair ribbon.  The hibiscus, too, was a nice touch. I'm a sucker for flowers, especially tucked behind the ear against hair the color of chestnuts.

You knew that.  Of course you did.  You were backed up by some of the finest infohounds money could buy.  And you had plenty, didn't you?  Too bad the security cases who working for whomever you stole from (and I still don't know.  Hargreaves, Ltd?  Basel Rohrer Gmbh?  Does it matter?) had more and better.  If I hadn't gotten up to take a leak, I would have been at the table with you, when that bomb went off.  Sixteen pounds or so of hexogen disguised as a street cleaning 'bot was a masterful stroke, I admit.

You, a cloud of pink vapor.  Me, a vomiting, nervous wreck fleeing the scene with nothing but the clothes on my back and a wallet.  And your ribbon.  The gun came later.

The cigarette has burned out, singing my fingers.  Christ, I get so distracted when I think of you, darling.  Except when it comes to you, I forget nothing.

The helicopters make another pass, but the sounds are getting fainter, as if the circles are moving elsewhere.  Good, good...I am a patient man, my love.  After all, I waited for you, yes?  I can wait for them to leave.  When they do, I will leave, too.  My passport, the one I think is my real one, is still good.  I have friends at a lab in Sri Lanka, ones you did not know about.  They will know what to do with the hair ribbon, if I can get there.

If I can get there.  If I want to get there.  I want, badly, to forget, and my choices now are a ribbon or a bullet.

Tell me, darling, which should I wear?


  1. The cigarette has burned out, singing my fingers. Christ, I get so distracted when I think of you, darling. Except when it comes to you, I forget nothing.

    that is delicious

  2. Fantastic writing, I want to know what happens next

  3. Sri Lanka's nice and warm anytime of year. Good story, sir.

  4. A little espionage and trade secrets.

  5. this is cool. Like Alec Baldwin channeling Christopher Walken acting like Bruce Dern impersonating James Woods


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...